Credit: AP, USA TODAY Sports - Scanpix, TAR-TASS, BNS | BasketNews illustration/M.Didė
Credit AP, USA TODAY Sports - Scanpix, TAR-TASS, BNS | BasketNews illustration/M.Didė

This year they sacrificed a substantial role, a shot at the EuroLeague title, and a good paycheck to chase their NBA dreams. But they got stuck in the strongest league in the world.

Gabriel Deck

Gabriel  Deck
Gabriel  Deck
MIN: 7.57
PTS: 1.2 (33.33%)
REB: 0.8
As: 0.6
ST: 0
BL: 0
TO: 0.2
GM: 5

BasketNews tells a story about a group of big-time International players that could be on the top shelves of the EuroLeague market, but at the moment, they're grinding on the other side of the ocean.

KEVIN PANGOS

What he left on the table

Kevin Pangos was one of the hottest free agents in Europe last summer who sacrificed the most in this group.

According to sources and various reports around Europe, a 28-year-old Canadian point guard had a two-year $4M offer from CSKA Moscow.

Zenit were also putting a lot of effort (and money) to keep the All-EuroLeague first team member in Saint Petersburg. But despite lucrative offers flowing from Russia, Pangos was all about fulfilling his NBA dream.

For a while, he was linked with the Memphis Grizzlies. But Memphis made few trades that left no roster space for Pangos. In the end, they showed up only with Exhibit 10 offer and put Pangos in a blind alley.

However, Cleveland was monitoring Pangos for quite some time and became very intrigued to add him as their third point guard offering a two-year contract.

The deal was worth $3.5M, but only the first-year salary of $1.67M was fully guaranteed.

Current NBA situation

Pangos appeared in 8 NBA games this year and averaged 0.5 points and 0.4 assists in 3 minutes. He scored 3 of his all four points this season in a win vs. Detroit Pistons 98-78.

Cleveland has Darius Garland and Ricky Rubio at the point guard position, leaving Pangos at the bench's end. Another important Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton suffered a season-ending knee injury, but it didn't affect Pangos' minutes significantly.

Kevin Pangos

Kevin  Pangos
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Position: PG, SG
Age: 28
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Birth place: Canada

The Cavaliers exceeded the expectations by racing for the playoffs, which didn't help Pangos.

Recently, the Cavaliers assigned him to the G League team Cleveland Charge. He had 22 points and seven assists in his debut on December 7.

Future

Cavs general manager Koby Altman scouted Pangos for years, so it's not like Kevin ended up in Cleveland by accident.

NBA season is long and unpredictable. The upcoming trade deadline might move some pieces out of Cleveland. For example, Ricky Rubio is on an expiring contract and could be a desirable trade target.

But this is just speculation. What is clear is that it's a crime to have Pangos in the G League at his peak. The main question is if he can find the situation he deserves in the NBA.

If not, Pangos is still considered one of the top targets in the EuroLeague market. For instance, CSKA Moscow are still looking for a point guard. Dimitris Itoudis would be more than happy to find Pangos under the Christmas tree in Moscow.

Pangos was very determined with his NBA goal in his mind. From Gran Canaria to Russia, he checked NBA box scores every morning for six years and thought about how he could get there.

The EuroLeague star would suit any NBA team as a third point guard. But Kevin is a very competitive player, and it's a big question how long he'll be satisfied with his current NBA role.

GABRIEL DECK

What he left on the table

In April, Gabriel Deck jumped into the NBA train late in the 2020-21 season, signing a multi-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He gave away a substantial role in Real Madrid and paid half of his $1.5M buyout by himself. The three-year $11M NBA contract looked solid, but it was guaranteed for only $3.87M.

Current NBA situation

The beginning was promising. Deck averaged 8.4 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in his first ten NBA games in 21 minutes. In one of the last games of the season 2020-21, Deck scored career-high 18 points against Utah Jazz.

But the second-year experience was very different. Deck spent 22 minutes on one of the most horrifying NBA nights, which ended up with a record-breaking 73 point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Before, Deck appeared in 5 NBA games this season, played 22 minutes, and scored 9 points in total.

Future

There are at least two reasons why Gabriel Deck should be concerned about his future with the OKC. First of all, his head coach publicly admitted that they play a type of basketball that doesn't suit Deck very well.

"He is a really good post player, and that's not how we play typically," Mark Daigneault told on November 30.

Also, Deck's contract with the Thunder will be guaranteed for the rest of the season only if he passes the deadline of January 10.

It's hard to see if Oklahoma has Deck in their long-term rebuild picture. The way they play and distribute minutes to the young players at the moment, it doesn't look like that.

Players like Deck always will have a solid plan B. Before the season, Deck firmly denied rumors about negotiations with FC Barcelona. But BasketNews sources around the EuroLeague suggest that Barcelona might be the top landing spot for Deck if he decides to return to Europe.

However, Deck remains determined to stay in the NBA, sources say BasketNews. If not the OKC, Deck hopes there's another NBA organization that could give him an appropriate NBA opportunity.

LUCA VILDOZA

What he left on the table

Luca Vildoza was another solid EuroLeague name who left the Old continent at the end of the 2020-21 season.

In May, the New York Knicks signed Vildoza to a non-guaranteed four-year $13.6M deal, but only the first year of the contract was guaranteed.

Chema de Lucas reported that Baskonia Vitoria received a $2M buyout.

Current NBA situation

Although Vildoza's transfer was worth $2M, he never played a single official NBA game with the New York Knicks. The ankle injury forced Vildoza to miss the Knicks training camp before the season 2021-22, and New York finally waived him in October.

Future

Vildoza underwent right foot surgery, and he's expected to come back in January. 

Vildoza could be another big target of CSKA in Europe since the EuroLeague powerhouse followed his situation closely for years.

But BasketNews sources indicate that the MVP of ACB Finals 2020 doesn't consider returning to Europe at the moment, and he'll be seeking another NBA opportunity.

JOCK LANDALE

What he left on the table

Jock Landale was on his way to becoming one of the best EuroLeague bigs, but early on in his career, he showed it very clear that he was aiming for the NBA.

According to sources, Landale had an agreement with Anadolu Efes Istanbul last summer, but the NBA out clause was included in his contract. He ended up turning down a solid paycheck from the EuroLeague champions (per sources, it was close to $1M) and went to the NBA.

At the beginning of August, Spurs signed Landale to a two-year contract.

Current NBA situation

Landale appeared in 7 NBA games this season, averaging 2.1 points in 3 minutes.

He had career-high 10 points in a loss to Indiana Pacers. But after his career night, he appeared only in 3 NBA games and played only 11 minutes in total.

That also has a lot to do with him entering health and safety protocols in November and missing the Spurs' preseason finale with a concussion.

Spurs are out of the playoffs picture at the moment and use Landale as their reserve center after Jakob Poeltl, Thaddeus Young, and Drew Eubanks.

"He played very little, so I don't make evaluations in such a short time," Gregg Popovich said about Landale on November 4. "He'll continue to work at it. Obviously, he got behind with the concussion, so he has to work his way back in. He'll do everything he can to get there. He's a great kid."

Future

The first year is fully guaranteed ($925k) in Landale's agreement with the Spurs, while the second is non-guaranteed ($1.5M).

But Landale always had a big desire to make it to the NBA. He even paid a big part of contract termination with Zalgiris from his own pocket just to make himself available for the late NBA free agency last December.

So it's very likely Landale will pursue his NBA dream either in San Antonio or any other NBA organization in the future.

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2022-01-10
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